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Gulf Oil Spill Still a Health Threat to Many, Researchers Report
Date:8/16/2010

respiratory irritation, headaches and nausea. However, the researchers said the air quality has improved since the oil leak was stopped.

Other chemicals released by the oil or by chemicals used to disperse oil can cause skin irritation, respiratory problems and damage to the central nervous system.

Potential mental health issues include anxiety, depression, post-traumatic stress disorder and psychological stress.

Meanwhile, as more areas of the Gulf are reopened for commercial fishing, government officials are using extensive testing to ensure that seafood from the waters is safe.

But it's unclear whether this extra effort will convince consumers to start buying seafood from the Gulf in the wake of the oil spill, the Associated Press reported.

Different species clear oil contamination out of their bodies at different rates, which means some species may be declared safe before others. For example, fish are the fastest, crabs and oysters the slowest, and shrimp are somewhere in the middle, the news service said.

"I probably would put oysters at the top of the concern list and I don't think there's a close second," marine scientist George Crozier, director of the Dauphin Island Sea Lab in Alabama, told the AP.

In order to reduce oil spill-related risks to human health, Solomon and Janssen offer the following advice:

  • Safety equipment for workers should include hats, gloves, boots, coveralls, safety goggles and, in some cases, respirators.
  • Workers must take breaks and drink ample fluids to prevent heat-related illness.
  • Avoid skin contact with tar or oil on beaches, marshland or in the water.
  • Don't eat fish in areas of known oil contamination or where there is visible oil.
  • Don't eat seafood that smells oily or strange.
  • If there is a strong smell of oil in the air and you feel ill, go inside and adjust the air conditioner to recirculate air.
  • If
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